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United States signed “phase one” of their new trade agreement with China on Wednesday and two Canadians incarcerated by China since December 10, 2018 were not part of the deal.
During an interview with Quebec’s TVA in December last year, Trudeau said “that the United States should not sign a final and complete agreement with China that does not settle the question of Meng Wanzhou and the two Canadians.”
The prime minister made the comments approximately a year after Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were taken into custody by China on December 10, 2018, and were subsequently charged with spying.
Their arrests are viewed as retaliation for Meng Wanzhou, Chief Financial Officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, who was arrested by Canadian authorities as she transited through Vancouver International Airport nine days earlier.
Meng remains under house arrest and awaiting extradition to United States where she’s wanted for fraud and conspiracy charges related to Huawei business in Iran, allegedly conducted in violation of U.S. sanctions against the Islamist regime.
Thursday, January 16, 2019 marks day 402 of detention for both men, while Chinese prosecutors began the process of advancing the espionage cases against them around the same time Trudeau gave his TVA interview.
Queries to the Prime Minister’s Office on Spavor’s and Kovrig’s incarceration and whether the PM had any comment in the wake of the US-China phase one trade deal, were forwarded to Foreign Affairs Canada.
“The cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are and will remain our absolute priority,” said Foreign Affairs spokesperson John Babcock in a brief email statement.
“We continue to work tirelessly to secure their immediate release, and to stand up for them as a government and as Canadians. Our approach to these cases is multi-pronged and includes engagement with our allies, including the United States.”